Electric vehicles can charge up dealership profits

Canadian auto dealer is excited to introduce another new columnist to help dealers better understand and profit from the coming age of the electrification of the vehicle

In 2000, when I bought my first vehicle, it was easy for me to select the type I needed: I chose a compact extended-cab pickup truck. It was purely a practical decision. Picking up friends to head to the water, towing my personal watercraft to the boat ramp every weekend, and throwing all our wet gear in the bed made choosing a truck a total no-brainer for someone with a practical mind.

Fast-forward 20 years and not much has changed. I still try to approach problem-solving and decision-making with a no-nonsense mindset. These days, my practical approach is primarily directed at solving problems in the electric vehicle industry.

So when Canadian auto dealer asked me to write a regular column on how dealerships will be affected by the growing electrification of vehicles, I was happy to share some practical insights.

My company is entirely focused on helping EV adoption grow as seamlessly as possible. As CEO, I was thrilled to have the chance to share with Canadian dealerships the knowledge we have gained over the years from being heavily involved with almost every stakeholder group in the EV ecosystem.

ChargeHub/Mogile Technologies Inc, the company I founded six years ago with other equally practical problem-solvers, has become a North American resource for advice and decision-making tools for all stakeholders. We work closely with automakers, dealerships, governments, utilities, charging-station manufacturers, and — last , but certainly not least — the general public. That includes current EV owners, soon-to-be owners, and those still years away from their first electric car.

As well as working directly with dealers, I attend and present at conferences and events throughout North America almost every month. They may be related to EVs, the auto industry, or the electric-power sector. Attending all these different events, I get the opportunity to see first-hand the hurdles faced by different stakeholders in the EV ecosystem — and how they’re overcoming them.

There remains much work to be done by all stakeholders, on many fronts, to overcome some challenges before EVs fully gain the traction that a growing number of industry reports are predicting.

For example, with multiple and sometimes complicated rebates coming and going in different regions on an ongoing basis, it is almost impossible for someone to accurately keep track of the value of rebates available at any given time to a specific buyer. The end result is confusion and misinformation, which leads to a painful shopping experience that negatively impacts dealership sales efficiency.

Dealerships are an important stakeholder in the EV ecosystem, and they are definitely facing some EV-related hurdles.

Happily, through my work I get to see real-life examples of how some dealers are overcoming these hurdles and thriving in the marketing, sales, and service of cars with plugs. I now work first-hand on projects in both Canada and the U.S. that specifically help dealerships overcome these hurdles.

One example is a set of projects in California where, in conjunction with Plug In America and utilities in L.A., San Diego and Sacramento, ChargeHub provides a white labelled portal ensuring participating dealers always have all the latest EV incentives and cost of charging information at their fingertips to maximize dealership sales efficiency.

I hope readers will come to realize it’s not all uphill. Some in the auto industry may focus exclusively on the challenges and potential negative impacts on the dealership world, but EVs also bring dealers countless opportunities. Dealers who better understand the industry, the technology, and their consumers can profit handsomely.

My goal for the column is to bring useful insights to Canadian auto dealer readers that will let them further grow their bottom line as EVs start to make up a growing percentage of their sales.

Some of the subjects you can expect to appear in this column in the coming months include:

• Consumer behaviours and buying patterns, based on proprietary research;

• The growing charging infrastructure network and apps that make EVs more practical than ever;

• Real EV ownership costs that will give dealers information to speak intelligently about the EV choice;

• Updates on incentives and government policies, and how they impact dealers; and

• Winning strategies for dealers that are already successful at selling EVs.

If there’s one thing that the people involved with EVs have learned, it’s that things change fast. The principles of selling cars are still similar to those used by our parents, but the vehicles and how shoppers get information have all evolved rapidly — as any dealer knows.

Add in a new quickly evolving infrastructure to power these vehicles, which completely changes the patterns of how, where and when drivers put energy in their cars, and it’s a lot to absorb. I hope I can be a useful and informative guide through the new world.

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